Of the various known heart rhythm disorders, atrial fibrillation is one of the most common types. The New York Times just reviewed this condition in great detail. The biggest risk from untreated A-fib is stroke. However, one thing it didn’t mention was the strong association between A-fib and obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). OSA is also known to independently raise your risk of stroke.
Studies have found very high rates of OSA in patients with A-fib. One study reported that 81.6% of A-fib patients had obstructive sleep apnea. It works the other way as well: Having OSA quadruples your risk of having A-fib. One year after cardioversion for A-fib, the rate of recurrence in patients with untreated OSA was almost double those without OSA (82% vs. 42%).
Given the high rate of OSA in patients with A-fib, it’s puzzling why cardiologists don’t routinely screen for OSA.
If you were ever diagnosed with A-fib, were you also screened for obstructive sleep apnea?